After previewing and analyzing each of the top prospects of this year’s 2014 NBA Draft, it’s apparent that the Hornets’ selection will likely come down to either Nik Stauskas, Doug McDermott, or Gary Harris. At the moment, McDermott appears to be the favorite for Charlotte at the nine spot, but the Hornets’ organization and Michael Jordan never seem to lack flare and surprise with their picks. Need an example? Just look at last year’s draft in which Charlotte picked who many experts thought was the third best big in the draft in Cody Zeller with centers Alex Len and Nerlens Noel still on the board. Overall, despite what ESPN’s or CBS’s mock drafts might say, there’s honestly no guarantee what the Hornets or any team for that matter might do on draft night. Regardless, here’s a look at the three most likely possibilities for the Hornets at the number nine slot in this year’s draft.
Pros: Let’s get the obvious out of the way, Nik Stauskas will be a high-pick because of his great three-point shooting ability. In his freshman season at Michigan, while only averaging 11 points a contest, Stauskas shot a stunning 44% percent from three-point range, but received limited opportunities due to the presence of Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. who took the majority of the Wolverines’ shots two seasons ago. The next season, after deciding to return for his sophomore year, Stauskas played the star role on an elite-eight Michigan team, averaging 17.5 points, 3.3 assists, and 2.9 boards per contest. Amazingly enough, despite being forced to take more difficult shots as the team’s best player, Stauskas still managed to shoot 44.2% from three and 47% from the floor his sophomore year.
Cons: Contrary to his offensive display, despite having the prototypical body-type for an NBA shooting-guard (6’6”, 207 lbs), Stauskas occasionally struggled at stopping his opponents at Michigan, which could be a turn-off for the Hornets especially considering the team’s defensive focus. These defensive issues were magnified at the combine where Stauskas displayed below-average lateral quickness and a short wingspan for his size at only 6’7”.
The Fit: Between Harris, McDermott, and Stauskas, the most NBA-ready and least risky possibility out of the three is Stauskas. While Stauskas isn’t the greatest athlete in the world and might be a defensive liability at times, he’ll be a solid and dependable shooter who could space the floor for Al Jefferson. Plus, Stauskas has the perfect size for an NBA shooting guard at 6’6” and can also score off of the dribble with an exceptional mid-range jumper. While the former Wolverine won’t be a superstar in the NBA, he’s going to be a solid and dependable shooter at the next level, something that the Hornets certainly need.
Pros: The main draw to Gary Harris is his ability to score in multiple different ways from the two-guard position. In his freshman year at Michigan State, Harris shot 41% from beyond the arc while making an average of over two threes per contest. While the guards’ conversion rate of 35% from three in his sophomore year is concerning, Harris will certainly be a threat from long range in the NBA for years to come.
Harris also possess the ability to score off of the dribble as an improving slasher. While the guard won’t be able to rely on his driving ability at the next level, he has enough talent in the department to keep defenders honest on closeout
Cons: Harris’ shot selection displayed at Michigan State should be a concern for the Rich Cho and other NBA general managers. On tape, Harris is frequently found taking poor attempts from long range at inopportune times. At the next level, however, with better talent around the guard, Harris should be more reserved in his shot selection.
Another one of Harris’ shortcomings is his height. Standing at just 6’2” without shoes, Harris is well below the average NBA shooting guard height and could struggle defensively because of it. The MSU product dues have a 6’7” wingspan and above-average leaping ability that should compensate for his height at the next level.
The Fit: One thing about Harris that I really like is fact that he’s a two-way player, contrary to McDermott and Stauskas. With both Stauskas and McDermott, you have two guys who have fantastic offensive abilities, but aren’t very athletic and therefore struggle on defense. This isn’t the case with a capable Gary Harris, averaging nearly two steals a game last year at Michigan
State. Harris certainly would be able to hold his own as a Hornet defensively, making him an attractive option for GM Rich Cho and company.
Pros: Doug McDermott is simply an incredible player on the offensive end of the basketball court, averaging 26.2 points per game in his senior season at Creighton. McDermott’s versatility is also very impressive, shooting nearly 45% from three last year while showing the ability to post-up and hit shots off of the dribble. Amazingly, McDermott might be the most talented offensive player in this year’s very impressive draft class.
Cons: The biggest concern with McDermott is whether or not he can play the small forward position in the NBA. At 6’8” and 225 pounds, the Creighton product has the ideal size to play the three at the next level, but his lack of explosiveness and athletic ability have lead scouts to question McDermott’s defensive promise. At the small forward position in the NBA, where generally the league’s best athletes play, these defensive concerns are certainly heightened.
The Fit: Overall, I’m not the biggest fan of McDermott. While he’s a great offensive talent, the Creighton product is a bit of a tweener and will be a huge liability defensively for a team like the Hornets. While Doug McDermott could bring a nice balance at the three spot with a defensive-minded Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, I would much rather see the Hornets address the small forward position in free-agency.
In my opinion, because of his offensive promise, the best option for the Hornets at the number nine slot in this year’s draft is Nik Stauskas. Stauskas is a guy who could do wonders for Charlotte offensively by giving Kemba Walker another target, spacing the floor for Al Jefferson, and as someone who could score in multiple different ways. While his lack of defensive and athletic ability are certainly concerning, because of the position he plays in shooting guard, I would give the Michigan product an edge over Doug McDermott who will have to face basketball’s best athletes at the three shot. When compared to Gary Harris, Stauskas’ length makes many scouts argue that he might be comparable defensively to the shorter but more athletic Harris. Overall, Stauskas would be a great low-risk addition for the Hornets in this year’s draft.
Lead Hornets Writer: Jonathon Hoppe